Level 6 Lesson 21 / Passive Voice in Korean – Part 1


In this lesson, we are taking a look at how to make sentences in the “Passive Voice” in Korean. This will be covered through two parts and this is Part 1 of the Passive Voice in Korean lesson. For Part 2, please check out Level 6 Lesson 23!

What is Passive Voice?
Passive voice is a form of sentence in which the focus is on the recipient of an action, rather than the subject. For example, when you *make* something, that something is *made* by you. When you recommend a book to someone, the book *is recommended* by you. That is passive voice, and the opposite of passive voice is active voice.

How to make passive voice sentences in Korean
In English, you change the verb into its “past participle” form and add it after the BE verb, but in Korean you need to conjugate the verb in the “passive voice” form by adding a suffix or a verb ending.

Listen to this lesson to find out how to conjugate a verb into the Passive Voice in Korean!

You can download both the PDF lesson notes and the MP3 audio track for this lesson below, and if you want to learn with our various textbooks and workbooks, you can get them on our online bookstore at MyKoreanStore.com. If you have any questions about this lesson, please leave us comments below!

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Go to the Grammar Curriculum page to see all of our grammar lessons.

Level 6 Lesson 21 / Passive Voice in Korean – Part 1
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  • 어머 제 머리가 너무 아파요!
    I don’t really understand the purpose for passive voice!

  • 파린

    @_@ difficult lesson indeed…

  • Siska

    it’s really difficult…

  • 순수한

    Wow, it sounds interesting. I’m totally looking forward to this lesson! But I have to complete other levels first.

  • Edin

    What about verbs ending in vowels? Will they be covered in part 2?
    Thanks for the lesson!

  • snowz

    I am not able to download the mp3.

    It reads “Unable to download ttmik-16121.mp3 from traffic.libsyn.com.
    The connection with the server was reset”.

    Please assist.


  • Stefano

    문 닫힙니다! Now it makes sense…

    I wish you could come teach English in the States 🙂


  • Stefano

    oops… I mean teach Korean! (your english is pretty good though… I haven’t heard the word “grammarian” in a while)

  • Samier


    어렵 아니야. 그냥 암기해요 ㅎㅎㅎ


  • This is really a great lesson!!! ^^

  • Ingrid

    Guys i hope you can make more examples so we can understand a little bit more!!


    • We couldn’t make many sentences before doing Part 2 too : ) Part 2 will have many example sentences!

  • Debasish

    I hope to find some applications in sentence (sentence examples) in the next lesson…

  • If it’s hard for you to memorize cases and exceptions, it may help to go by sounds in Korean. For “(2) 히,” instead of memorizing “ㄱ, ㄷ, ㅂ,” you can lump them together into the group of sounds that change if ㅎ follows them (to ㅋ, ㅌ and , ㅍ sounds–먹히다 sounds like 머키다, etc.). And so maybe our teachers have left out the rarer ㅈ would also be grouped in here. 주사 맞았다 –> 주사 맞혔다.

    [Outside of “ㄱ,ㄷ,ㅂ and ㅈ” (also the top row of consonants on the keyboard excluding ㅅ and whose sounds turn conveniently enough into the bottom row of the keyboard when followed by ㅎ), none of the other consonants change when followed by ㅎ.]

    And if the final consonant is ㄹ, it’s easier to slur it off with a -리 than an -이, I think. And using -기 after ㄹ just seems silly, like adding a syllable for no reason. So going by the sound helps me with that one, too.

    For all vowels and -ㅎ, adding -이 also seems simpler than the other possibilities.

    But the last one, -기, doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but at this point you can just get by with it as the “other” category until you get the hang of it, I suppose.^^

    Let me know if that helps and if anyone has any other ways they keep track of these sorts of rules, please let me know~^^^^

    • 흑! The example I wrote about 맞다–> 맞히다 is apparently actually not passive but causative, which has a similar set of endings but different rules, which I don’t really understand at all. ^^ But! if I had used 얹다–> 얹히다 or 꽂다–> 꽂히다 the rule would still have applied.

      And then I discovered that if I’d used 찢다 it *wouldn’t* have worked, because the passive form of that verb is 찢기다. Wow! And I found an exception for ㄷ: 뜯다–>뜯기다 (not 뜯히다 like I would have expected). And I’m not quite clear on 붙이다 and how it fits into things either. So never mind. Passive’s bloomin’ tough.^^

  • wintergreen

    어려운 문법부분을 자세히 설명해 주셔서 정말 감사합니다! ^^
    파트 2 기대가 많이 됩니다.

  • Thx for the lesson. I think having sample sentences and comparing the active vs passive voice using sample sentences might make it a lot easier to understand. Hope to see those when you guys find time for it. Thx for the hard work! The double passive is kinda tricky. Does it only work for certain words?

  • Kendall Rice

    Wow, so thorough! Thanks for this great lesson! I found the rules for which of 이, 히, 리, and 기 to use after which 받침 very helpful.

    I have to disagree with you on one point, though. The double passive -아/어/여지다 may be widely used, but it’s definitely incorrect and doesn’t deserve to be recognized or taught as proper Korean, now or ever. It’s wrong for the same reason that double negatives are wrong in English: only one is required, so the second one is meaningless. Using a word meaninglessly cheapens its meaning, and that makes it harder, not easier, for everyone to understand. People who want to be sure their passive meaning comes across should take extra care to use the correct forms correctly—not twice.

    Despite quibbling over that, though, I’m always grateful to you guys for the wonderful work you do. I’ve made great strides in Korean thanks to y’all. Keep it up!

  • Thanks for the amazing lesson! But if you don’t mind, I have a question… Does it mean that 먹히다 and 먹어지다 have the exact same meaning and usage? And how do you say, for example, “The food was eaten by me?” Thanks!

    • 학생

      There’s no such thing as 먹어지다.
      먹는 게 나한테 먹혔다.
      Some verbs are changed with with 히 이 리 and 기, and the rest with 아어여지다, but not both.

      oops.. it’s from december 2011 TT

    • 학생

      Ah there’s actually some verbs that can be changed in both ways, but 먹다 not one of them.
      And was eaten by me is 먹는 게 나한테 먹혀 있었다
      먹는 게 나한테 먹혔다 is it was being eated by me
      But not sure as I didn’t study english grammar and it’s not my native 😛

  • Ed

    There were some example sentences spoke in the mp3 – it would’ve been nice to have them in pdf. But the explanations here were well done, I didn’t find it as difficult as I had feared. Thanks!

  • krin

    i am bit confused in using the double passive voice.: ..mm……will 먹히다 be 먹허지다?

    • Sanjeeda Masroor

      It would be 먹혀지다

      먹다 -> 먹히다
      먹히다 + (아/어/여)지다
      먹히+어지다 ->먹혀지다

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  • Andrew

    if you change a word to passive tense present form
    먹다 -> 먹히다 to be eaten 빵이 먹혀요
    then, is “to be eaten” in the past tense
    빵이 먹혔어요
    any different?
    is there a difference between passive present tense, passive past tense and passive future tense?

    • Hi Andrew,

      passive present tense – (빵이) 먹혀요
      passive past tense – (빵이) 먹혔어요
      passive future tense – (빵이) 먹힐 거예요

      The expressions are different each other.

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • Eman

    A. 제 열쇠 없거든요.혹시 봐있어요?

    B. 아까 가방에 놓졌어요.

  • CyberMew

    Hmm what about those without batchims like 보다? Which of the four do we use?

  • Alan C

    There is a typo at the top of page 3. It says: 주다 [ju-eo-ji-da] = to give

  • Sanjeeda Masroor

    이 수업은 쯤 어려우니까 조금 도워주면 좋을 거예요, 감사합니다!!
    If I said anything wrong in the above sentence, 죄송합니다.

    1) It was done by me.
    – 이건 제가 돼졌어요

    2) This pizza was ordered yesterday.
    – 이 피자가 어제 주문되졌어요

    3) This gift would be prepared by her.
    – 이 선물은 그녀는 준비될 거예요

    4) This fish was caught by your father.
    – 이 물고기는 당신의 아빠가 잡히졌어요

    5) It seems today’s dinner would be prepared by my mom
    – 오늘 식사는 제 엄마가 요리될거 같아요

    6) Tomorrow’s homework is being done by my sister(elder)
    – 내일의 숙제는 제 언니가 되고 있어요

    7) The bed was moved by us to sleep comfortably
    – 우리는 편하게 자기 위해 이 표를 놓였어요

    8) Since the clothes are piled up at the corner of the room, I would be sleeping on the sofa
    – 방 구석에서 천을 놓여니까 오늘 소파에 잘 게요

    9) I was pushed by my friend.
    – 제 친구가 절 밀렸어요

    If there are any mistakes in the above sentences, Please correct me!!

    • metal_samurai

      when you want to indicate what/who did the action you’d normally use 에 or 에게 rather than 이/가. for example
      물고기가 아빠에게 잡혔다.
      나는 개에 물렸다.

    • Sanjeeda Masroor

      So, whenever we have sentences like ‘by me’, ‘by you’, ‘by my sister’ then you use the 에게 part?
      Like 제 언니에게 만들어졌어요?
      and is it applicable only in passive voice or anywhere we use this ‘by…’ sentence?
      Thanks for your correction though, 감사합니다!!

    • metal_samurai

      that’s right, that’s how you’d indicate “by” someone/something in passive sentences. 에게 for people and 에 for anything else (animals, etc.). your example sentence is correct.

      not sure i understand your question about its application elsewhere; the passive voice is the only time an action done “by” someone/something would apply.

    • Sanjeeda Masroor

      Yes. That’s what my doubt was. Thanks for replying!!

    • Gh Arzaa

      Thanks for the information

    • Gh Arzaa

      Thanks to the sentences ,I really get use from your sentences regardless if it is correct or not

    • Sanjeeda Masroor

      Hi Arzaa! I’m glad that these sentences are helpful!! 🙂

    • 익명의 한국인

      As a native
      Sorry but your sentences sound all weird. We don’t use passive forms a lot.
      1) doesn’t make sense. ‘이건 제가 했어요.’ sounds much better. We don’t use 돼지다. It sounds like 뒈지다. If you really want to use a passive form you should say ‘이건 저에 의해 행해졌어요.’
      2) Passive form sounds weird. I would write it ‘어제 이 피자를 주문했어요.’.
      3) doesn’t make sense. If you really want to use a passive form you should say ‘이 선물은 그녀에 의해 준비될 거예요.’. But I would write it ‘그녀는 이 선물을 준비할 거예요.’.
      4) doesn’t make sense. If you really want to use a passive form you should say ‘이 물고기는 당신의 아버지에 의해 잡혔어요.’. But I would write it ‘당신의 아버지가 이 물고기를 잡았어요.’.
      5) doesn’t make sense. What you wrote means ‘It seems today’s dinner is my mom would be cooked.’. Passive form sounds weird. I would write it ‘제 어머니께서 오늘 식사를 준비하실 것 같아요.’.
      6) doesn’t make sense. What you wrote means ‘Tomorrow’s homework is becoming my sister.’. Passive form sounds weird. I would write it ‘제 언니가 내일 숙제를 하고 있어요.’.
      7) doesn’t make sense. 표? You mean ticket? If you really want to use a passive form you should say ‘이 침대는 저희가 편하게 자기 위해서 옮겨졌어요.’.
      8) doesn’t make sense. I would write it ‘방구석에 옷이 쌓여 있어서 저는 소파에서 잘 거예요.’. cloth=천 clothes=옷
      9) doesn’t make sense. I would write it ‘제 친구가 절 밀었어요.’.

      We don’t use passive forms that much like in English. Please be careful with postpositions when writing (를 하다 = 가 되어지다).

  • TinaMusicFairy

    woow I only knew about 하다 verbs, but I have a question: can you write 연구되어지다 as 연구돼지다? I mean I know 되다 is conjugated as 돼다 so can this apply here too? 감사합니다.

  • Yuki

    이 레슨 좀 어려워 것 같은데 ㅋㅋㅋ

    나: 내 가방이 어디야?
    가: 네 가방은 엄마에 의해 벽장에 넣어졌어요 근데 왜 그렇게 필사적이죠?
    나: 비밀이야
    -개에게 말하기-
    가: 뭐 먹고 았어? 이 편지는 네 것이니? 그건 개에 의해 먹혔네요

  • Matt

    [1] 내 칫솔이 또 다른 사람으로 써졌어요… = My toothbrush was used by someone else…
    [2] 퍼즐에 마지막 조각 넣였어요. = The last piece was put in the puzzle.
    [3] 강도 2주 후에, 도둑이 잡혔어요. = The thief was caught two weeks after the robbery.
    [4] 올림픽스 동안 이 트랙이 달려질 거예요. = This track will be run during the Olympics.
    [5] 옷이랑 같이 핸드폰이 씻겼어요. = My cellphone was washed with my clothes.
    [6] 이 박물관은 외국 관광객들로 자주 방문되어요. = This museum is often visited by foreign tourists.
    [7] 문이 쾅 닫겨졌어요. = The door was slammed shut.
    [8] 그 이야기는 완전히 연구되어졌어요. = The topic was thoroughly researched.

    Thank you for the lesson.